Chicago Police Probe Rash of Shootings
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
In Chicago, the murder rate had taken a slight dip, until this weekend. Nine people were killed in shootings, more than 25 others were wounded. Police blame an excess of guns, gangs, and warm weather for the violence. NPR's Cheryl Corley, reports.
CHERYL CORLEY: There are candles and roses outside of the home of Angel Rodriguez(ph) here on 21st in California. He's one of the victims of this weekend's shootings. And people here on the block like Nubia Hernandez(ph) say they're scared.
Ms. NUBIA HERNADEZ, (Resident, Chicago): And we can't come out here. It's not safe for my kids. We have cameras supposedly to protect us and there's nothing - it's not the first crime out here. It's been about two, three, killings, so it's, kind of, dangerous.
CORLEY: Reyna Lopez(ph), walking her daughter to school, said she heard shots last night and rushed with her husband to see what was happening.
Mrs. REYNA LOPEZ (Resident, Chicago): Innocent people are dying. You're just sitting down and having a drink or be out there with the family. Where are they? They're shooting while we were. So we don't have peace no more.
CORLEY: The violent weekend came after authorities released numbers showing Chicago's murder rate fell slightly, from the beginning of the year through March, compared to the same period last year. Of the 36 shootings this weekend, from Friday to this morning, police say most were gang related.
The city's new police chief says there are too many gangs and guns on the street. And the nice spring weather with temperatures in the 60s and 70s may have also played a role.
Tio Hardyman, an organizer with CeaseFire, a group working to reduce gang violence, says there's always a spike in shootings during this time of year.
Mr. TIO HARDYMAN (Organizer, CeaseFire): It's typical because, really, what happens when the weather breaks. Normally, a lot of people, you know, you just - I mean things happen. I mean, people, like say, you get into -if you look at me the wrong way, you step on my shoe. I've been looking for you all winter long and now it's the summertime, I see you riding down the street, I have to get busy. I got to do what I have to do.
CORLEY: Since the beginning of the school year, more than 20 Chicago public schools students have been killed by gun fire. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley whose push for tougher gun control measures says in order to control violence it will take more than the police.
Mayor RICHARD DALEY (Democrat, Chicago): The end result, parents have to make sure where their children are. That is, at all times, we asked them to do that. It's been long summer and parents better capture that total responsibility.
CORLEY: Tio Hardyman says while that sounds good in theory, in practice it doesn't work out that way.
Mr. HARDYMAN: See it used to be a time you can stand on your child you better come in the house. You better not do this, you better not do that. These kids are not hearing that nowadays. That's the reason you can't preach to them. You got to, kind of, join their world and then bring them in to your world.
CORLEY: While groups like CeaseFire work to intervene in dangerous situations and prevent gang violence, Chicago police say they're putting more officers at school and focusing attention on areas where gang retaliation is likely to occur.
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CORELEY: Cheryl Corley, NPR NEWS, Chicago.
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